‘Bystander intervention’ is one of the keys to successful anti-bullying programs.

ADHYAYANA Needs more evidence ‘Bystander intervention’ is one of the keys to successful anti-bullying programs.
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Not all interventions are effective against bullying. Among the keys to successful interventions is the so-called “bystander intervention” that tries to activate the students who witness bullying to stop it by defending the victims.

Do we have evidence that this is true?


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Gontzal Uriarte

Wachs, S., Bilz, L., Niproschke, S., & Schubarth, W. (2019). Bullying intervention in schools: A multilevel analysis of teachers’ success in handling bullying from the students’ perspective. Journal of Early Adolescence, 39(5), 642-668. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0272431618780423

Regarding Hypothesis 2, we found empirical evidence that, in the long term, supportive-individual and supportive-cooperative strategies are connected to higher intervention success than authoritarian-punitive strategies. This result stands in contrast to the oft-reported desire of students who have been victimized that the student who perpetrated the bullying be punished (Kepenekci & Çınkır, 2006). Thus, Hypothesis 2 was confirmed. Moreover, as we hypothesized (Hypothesis 3), supportive-cooperative intervention strategies were more strongly associated with intervention success in the long term compared with supportive-individual strategies. The results indicate that the intervention strategy used least often (supportive-cooperative) appeared to be the most effective, which is in line with previous holistic evaluation research of intervention programs that showed that supportive intervention approaches seem to be successful in handling bullying.

Gontzal Uriarte

Christina Salmivalli , Marinus Voeten & Elisa Poskiparta (2011) Bystanders Matter: Associations Between Reinforcing, Defending, and the Frequency of Bullying Behavior in Classrooms. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology.

“When it comes to practical implications, the interventions designed to reduce bullying should target not only individual bullies and victims but the group as a whole (cf. Salmivalli, 1999; Salmivalli et al., 2010). It should be beneficial to influence the bystanders, making them more likely to defend and support victimized peers and less likely to reinforce the bully. On the basis of results from this study it can be hypothesized that especially a decrease in reinforcing could be a key factor in reducing bullying.”

Gontzal Uriarte

Joshua R. Polanin, Dorothy L. Espelage & Therese D. Pigott (2012 )A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Bullying Prevention Programs’ Effects on Bystander Intervention Behavior. School Psychology Review. https://doi.org/10.1080/02796015.2012.12087375

Prevention frameworks and programs that attempt to abate bullying within schools are increasingly emphasizing changes in school climate that desist reinforcing bystander behavior or bullying perpetration (Cohen, 2006). The results of this study support these efforts to raise awareness about the participant roles, to encourage active and prosocial behavior, and to provide opportunities to role-play and practice bystander intervention in vivo.

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